Wondering why your job makes you feel so tired at the end of the day? It could be a sign of work fatigue. Even when we are sure to get enough sleep at night, eat nutritiously, and practice self-care, feelings of stress can become a slippery slope.
What Is Work/Life Balance?
Our work/life balance is exactly that — a balance.
Juggling these two areas can be a real challenge and when we begin to feel overwhelmed, work fatigue may set in. Including more areas than just physical tiredness, fatigue is a matter of mental and physical exhaustion. Individuals working the night shift, those with early morning start times, service employees, and healthcare providers are at particular risk for work fatigue.
Though tiredness on its own is usually resolved after a night or two of quality and undisturbed rest, the relationship between chronic lack of sleep and work fatigue is hard to ignore. Addressing the effects of work fatigue should touch on every area of our life, not just our desk jobs.
- 34% of people report headaches due to elevated stress
- 33% of people experience feelings of nervousness from elevated stress
- 32% of people feel sad or even depressed as a result of unmanaged stress
Symptoms of work fatigue may include periods of prolonged tiredness despite normal sleeping habits, difficulty concentrating, and feelings of depression and/or anxiety
How to Fight Fatigue at Work
When we feel overwhelmed with stress, facing our own work fatigue proactively can seem daunting. In reality, all it takes is simple and small changes to snowball into greater positive effects.
Be sure to take necessary breaks
Typically, this amounts to a 30-minute break for every 4 to 8 hours worked. Getting up and around, especially in desk jobs, is essential to keep our circulation healthy and mind clear.
Resist the impulse to skip lunch. When those hunger signals strike, fuel your body with healthy options like fruits, veggies, and whole grains. This level of self-care will not only help you focus and do your job better, but your body and mind will thank you for it as well.
- Consider requesting a work-from-home day in an effort to improve work/life balance
- Renegotiate hours, request a change of position or delegate responsibilities to other team members
- Talk to management about your difficulties and see if there are any options to alleviate the situation
Changes in home routine can help
At-home changes can also improve our time spent at work. Though work fatigue may incite us to immediately slip into bed for a post-work nap, this influence only reinforces poor coping mechanisms and disordered sleeping habits.
Adults need an average of 8 hours of sleep every night, and even just a few nights in a row of disturbed rest can leave us irritable and distracted during the day. Unfortunately, 46% of people say they are unable to calm their minds enough to fall asleep and stay asleep when dealing with stress.
- Working on meditation, mindfulness of living in the moment, and even taking up a yoga practice can be beneficial. Over 70% of studies have shown that meditation, even on small scales, results in significant stress reduction and 10% of yoga practitioners report higher mental clarity than non-practitioners.
- Blackout curtains in the bedroom have been shown to improve quality of sleep, especially helpful for individuals who work the night shift.
- Limit screen time in the hour before bedtime.
- Introduce more positive self-talk in your inner voice, forgive mistakes, and focus on small improvements to influence big ones.
Beat the sleeplessness cycle
If all else fails, consider taking a day or two off of work. Though the Fair Labor Standards Act does not guarantee sick days or leave time from work for stress or fatigue, many businesses provide their employees options for unpaid and paid time off.
During this time, listen to your internal clock to regulate circadian cycles. Avoid pressuring yourself to “get enough sleep” and instead use melatonin supplements, chamomile tea, and other sleep supporting aids.
Lay off the coffee if possible and make water intake a priority. Links have been identified in lack of sleep and levels of dehydration, putting individuals with low levels of sleep regularity at higher risk for dehydration.
Our career, livelihood, and passion shouldn’t cost us our mental health — take control of your work fatigue and get your energy back. Detailed in this infographic is more on the topic of work fatigue, who’s at risk, and how to stop the cycle.
Source: Psych Degrees